Russia Sitting on Massive Diamond Find Since the 1970's

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Russia has just declassified news that will shake world gem markets to their core: the discovery of a vast new diamond field containing "trillions of carats," enough to supply global markets for another 3,000 years.
The Soviets discovered the bonanza back in the 1970s beneath a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile diameter asteroid crater in eastern Siberia known as Popigai Astroblem.
They decided to keep it secret, and not to exploit it, apparently because the USSR's huge diamond operations at Mirny, in Yakutia, were already producing immense profits in what was then a tightly controlled world market...
http://news.yahoo.com/russia-reveals-shiny-state-secret-awash-diamonds-131212873.html [Broken]
 
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  • #2
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People spend a lot of money buying diamonds because they don't know what diamonds are. They think diamonds are rare and are made from some magical material that gives them intrinsic worth.

Now they're even more worthless.
But people don't care. They'll still take out a loan to buy a diamond ring for someone they'll break up with in a year.
 
  • #3
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so I have no idea how the global diamond market works...

can someone tell me how big of a deal this is? Are diamonds suddenly worth a lot less now?
 
  • #4
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Interesting how these 'impact' diamonds are 'twice as hard' as the usual gemstones. That alone should peak the interest of use in industry (don't know why my wife would need an unusually hard diamond on her ring..). But the vast amount of diamonds down there is insane!
 
  • #5
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I have my doubts about the validity of the story for now. I believe Fred Weir (author) is using this as the source: http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/521357.html I would have trusted the story more if Fred Weir himself had talked to the institute's director.
 
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  • #6
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I have my doubts about the validity of the story for now. I believe Fred Weir (author) is using this as the source: http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/521357.html I would have trusted the story more if Fred Weir himself had talked to the institute's director.
Is Itar-Tass a suspect news agency?
 
  • #7
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so I have no idea how the global diamond market works...

can someone tell me how big of a deal this is? Are diamonds suddenly worth a lot less now?
Diamonds are distributed by a cartel whose goal is to keep prices high.

De Beers is able to create an artificial scarcity of diamonds through its wholly-owned Central Selling Organization (CSO), thus keeping prices high. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartels A cartel is a group of formally independent producers whose goal is to increase their collective profits by means of price fixing, limiting supply, or other restrictive practices.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6186684678299366197 [Broken]
 
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  • #8
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Is Itar-Tass a suspect news agency?
But when only Itar Tass publishes a story and not many mainstream news agencies pick up the story, I will be reluctant to trust it. I am still waiting for bbc to publish the story.
 
  • #9
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But when only Itar Tass publishes a story and not many mainstream news agencies pick up the story, I will be reluctant to trust it. I am still waiting for bbc to publish the story.
It would seem the perpetrator of any hoax or deception would have to be the Russian Government, itself, since Itar-Tass is the "official" news agency:
The veil of secrecy was finally lifted over the weekend, and Moscow permitted scientists from the nearby Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy to talk about it with Russian journalists.
According to the official news agency, ITAR-Tass, the diamonds at Popigai are "twice as hard" as the usual gemstones, making them ideal for industrial and scientific uses.
The institute's director, Nikolai Pokhilenko, told the agency that news of what's in the new field could be enough to "overturn" global diamond markets.
The function of any lie here would have to be to mess with de Beers somehow, implying the Russian Government and de Beers are in some secret power struggle over the diamond market.

Industrial diamonds are extremely important and the article points out that the impact of these diamonds would not be on the price of engagement rings:

They claim the Popigai site is unique in the world, thus making Russia the monopoly proprietor of a resource that's likely to become increasingly important in high-precision scientific and industrial processes.
"The value of impact diamonds is added by their unusual abrasive features and large grain size," Pokhilenko told Tass. "This expands significantly the scope of their industrial use and makes them more valuable for industrial purposes."
Russian scientists say the news is likely to change the shape of global diamond markets, although the main customers for the super-hard gems will probably be big corporations and scientific institutes.
 
  • #10
turbo
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I have a hard time believing that Russia has a huge cache of diamonds that are twice as hard as normal ones. Such a cache would have a huge impact on the gem market, since it is necessary to use diamond to facet and polish other diamonds. In fact, we are pretty dependent on the orientation of the diamond dust on the polishing laps to manage to even finish and polish diamonds.
 
  • #11
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It would seem the perpetrator of any hoax or deception would have to be the Russian Government, itself, since Itar-Tass is the "official" news agency:


The function of any lie here would have to be to mess with de Beers somehow, implying the Russian Government and de Beers are in some secret power struggle over the diamond market.

Industrial diamonds are extremely important and the article points out that the impact of these diamonds would not be on the price of engagement rings:
They only made a claim yet nothing about what they are planning on doing about the massive diamond find. I find it quite bizarre.
 
  • #12
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I have a hard time believing that Russia has a huge cache of diamonds that are twice as hard as normal ones. Such a cache would have a huge impact on the gem market, since it is necessary to use diamond to facet and polish other diamonds. In fact, we are pretty dependent on the orientation of the diamond dust on the polishing laps to manage to even finish and polish diamonds.
It's not about polishing gem quality diamonds at all. The machining process for all metals depends on carbide cutters. Carbide cutters have to be ground sharp with special grinding wheels. Those grinding wheels are "dressed" with diamond dressers. The carbide cutters are additionally honed with diamond abrasives. All machine shops depend on carbide cutters. All manufacturers of carbide cutters depend on diamonds.

Anytime you need something durable, precise, and sharp in industry, diamonds come into play.

The video here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/russian-diamonds-siberian-meteorite-crater-carats_n_1891691.html [Broken]

quotes a russian scientist as saying:

"…they were created from the force of an asteroid striking Siberia's graphite deposit 35 million years ago. These uncut gemstones are particularly large and abrasive…"

If Russia actually has enough 2x hard diamonds to last 3000 years they could easily monopolize the diamond element of the machine tool industry. I suppose the question is: if a diamond is twice as hard how much longer does it last as a wheel dresser and how much more would industry pay for it? Also, since time is money, how much faster can you dress a wheel with a 2x hardness diamond? And, since the diamond dressers would be harder, how much harder could you make the grinding wheels for the carbide so the carbide could be sharpened faster? Many questions arise on the effect this would have on the carbide cutter industry and everything down the line, which is just about all industry.
 
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  • #13
Evo
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Yes, there could a huge hoard of low grade industrial diamonds, but...

For the value of any mineral deposit is not the value of the minerals in it. It’s the value of those minerals minus the cost of extracting them. With gemstone diamonds this doesn’t usually matter: the value is so high that almost any mining technique is profitable. But these aren’t gemstone diamonds:

Russian scientists are claiming that a gigantic deposit of industrial diamonds found in a huge Siberian meteorite crater during Soviet times could revolutionise industry.

The Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences said that the Popigai crater in eastern Siberia contains “many trillions of carats” of so-called “impact diamonds” good for technological purposes, not for jewellery, and far exceeding the currently known global deposits of conventional diamonds.

We have an entirely acceptable substitute for natural industrial diamonds: lab grown industrial diamonds. And we almost always find that the lab grown ones, the artificial ones, are cheaper than the mined ones.

So, I don't doubt that there is a huge deposit of industrial diamonds there. What I do doubt is whether anyone will ever bother to go and dig them up. When we can make diamond powders in labs simply enough, why bother trying to build a vast mine in Northern Siberia, one of the most inhospitable places on the planet?
http://www.forbes.com/sites/timwors...ket-about-to-collapse-over-huge-russian-find/
 
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  • #14
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Yes, there could a huge hoard of low grade industrial diamonds, but...
Ultra-high grade, not low grade. The 2x hardness and large size would make them superior to all man made industrial diamonds.

These aren't volcanic diamonds where a lot of dirt has to be sifted for each diamond found. If it's true an asteroid hit a graphite deposit the percentage of diamonds per dross could be amazingly high, making mining economically more viable than manufacturing them.
 
  • #15
Evo
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Ultra-high grade, not low grade. The 2x hardness and large size would make them superior to all man made industrial diamonds.

These aren't volcanic diamonds where a lot of dirt has to be sifted for each diamond found. If it's true an asteroid hit a graphite deposit the percentage of diamonds per dross could be amazingly high, making mining economically more viable than manufacturing them.
We currently have man made "harder than diamond" materials, and the technology just keeps improving, although not viable right now.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16610-diamond-no-longer-natures-hardest-material.html

So, it depends on how much mining the diamonds in siberia would cost, compared to any benefits over the current man made ones.
 
  • #16
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So, it depends on how much mining the diamonds in siberia would cost, compared to any benefits over the current man made ones.
Yes. This is apparently what Russia hasn't sorted out yet. One article said they're going to dispatch scientists to re-evaluate the site. That, of course, makes the whole announcement premature and possibly "bizarre" as rootX characterized it. What could be the point of boasting about a resource you don't know you can use? Who would they be trying to impress or bluff? I don't know.
 
  • #17
turbo
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Yes. This is apparently what Russia hasn't sorted out yet. One article said they're going to dispatch scientists to re-evaluate the site. That, of course, makes the whole announcement premature and possibly "bizarre" as rootX characterized it. What could be the point of boasting about a resource you don't know you can use? Who would they be trying to impress or bluff? I don't know.
I have a hard time with this. How can Russia have a huge cache of diamonds that are "twice as hard" as regular diamonds? Did they manage to repeal physical laws to get these magical diamonds?

We should wait for any extraordinary claims to be evaluated. I hold out no hope for the hype to be upheld.
 
  • #18
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I have a hard time with this. How can Russia have a huge cache of diamonds that are "twice as hard" as regular diamonds? Did they manage to repeal physical laws to get these magical diamonds?
Something to do with lack of homogeneity, it looks like:

When the Russians discovered this treasure trove of sparkling profit, they decided to keep quiet about it, as other diamond operations in the country, specifically in Mirny, Yakutia, were already producing enough diamonds to make a healthy profit. Scientists were given their first peek at this underground secret this past weekend, and were later allowed to discuss it with members of the press. One such scientist, Nikolai Pokhilenko, the head of the Geological and Mineralogical Institute in Novosibirsk, told reporters these diamonds include extra forms of carbon, making them twice as hard as other diamonds.
http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112696119/russia-diamond-crater-091812/
 
  • #19
russ_watters
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**Random misogynistic sentiment**

Moving on:

I have my doubts about the validity of the story for now. I believe Fred Weir (author) is using this as the source: http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c32/521357.html I would have trusted the story more if Fred Weir himself had talked to the institute's director.
An unreliable Soviet wealth claim? Well, I never!

Still, it would be cool if someone broke DeBeers. I can think of all sorts of things that could be made better if made of/coated with diamonds.
Is Itar-Tass a suspect news agency?
Not the news report, the original Soviet report it is about. The Soviets (and now the Chinese) were notorious for embellishing official reports on all sorts of things.

Regarding gem vs industrial: wouldn't the De Beers hold on gem diamonds also adversely affect the industrial market? And vice versa? Or are the markets really that far apart?
 
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  • #20
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Regarding gem vs industrial: wouldn't the De Beers hold on gem diamonds also adversely affect the industrial market? And vice versa? Or are the markets really that far apart?
Industrial diamonds cost peanuts compared to gem quality. To the extent de Beers deals in industrials it's only because they find them in the course of looking for gem quality stones and since they have them they might as well sell them. As the article Evo posted pointed out, it's now cheaper to make industrial diamonds than it would be to mine them.

This Russian deposit is different than normal volcanic diamonds, though: it's caused by an asteroid impacting a graphite deposit. This may mean it's cost effective to mine the diamonds for industry.
 
  • #21
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Ultra-high grade, not low grade. The 2x hardness and large size would make them superior to all man made industrial diamonds.
[citation needed]

A diamond is a diamond is a diamond, it's just a carbon allotrope. You can introduce impurities and tailor grow your own stones these days.

I like to call them "cruelty free stones" myself.


I suspect the terms they were after in the story might be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonsdaleite, which is usually found with meteorites.
 
  • #22
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[citation needed]
Indeed. I am just assuming that if diamonds are useful because of their hardness, a 2x hardness diamond would be even better.

A diamond is a diamond is a diamond, it's just a carbon allotrope. You can introduce impurities and tailor grow your own stones these days.
Evo alluded to this. Apparently it's expensive.

I suspect the terms they were after in the story might be: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonsdaleite, which is usually found with meteorites.
This may well be what they have, yes.

edit: the wiki article you linked to says lonsdaleite is not as hard as diamond, so it appears they have something else over there in Siberia.
 
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  • #23
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Ah, I read this: "A simulated pure sample has been found to be 58% harder than diamond.[13]" and assumed they were talking about something similar.

Growing diamonds is not as expensive as you'd think, the only reason diamonds are expensive is artificial scarcity.
 
  • #24
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Ah, I read this: "A simulated pure sample has been found to be 58% harder than diamond.[13]" and assumed they were talking about something similar.
That's saying under ideal conditions it could be that hard. The naturally occurring stuff never is:
It is translucent, brownish-yellow in color, and has an index of refraction of 2.40 to 2.41, a specific gravity of 3.2 to 3.3, and a Mohs hardness of 7–8.[1] The Mohs hardness of diamond is 10, and the lower hardness of lonsdaleite is chiefly attributed to impurities and imperfections in the naturally occurring material. A simulated pure sample has been found to be 58% harder than diamond.
The article mentions lonsdaleite as occurring as microscopic crystals. The Russian stuff is claimed to be mostly larger than other naturally occurring diamonds. The graphite that produces lonsdaleite is believed to have been contained in the object that struck the earth. In the Russian deposit the graphite was already here and was struck by the asteroid.

Growing diamonds is not as expensive as you'd think, the only reason diamonds are expensive is artificial scarcity.
I wasn't clear about what I was referring to. What I meant to say was that Evo pointed out that man made substances that are harder than diamonds are expensive, not man made diamonds.
 

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